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The abstractly designed Groninger Museum, designed by Alessandro Mendini, offers a wide variety of art. 'The Collection' provides a broad insight into art over the years, while 'De Ploeg' places a strong emphasis on the expressionist artists' collective. The colorfulness of Design is showcased in 'Memphis Design' and 'Pronkjewails'.


The Groninger Museum connects the historic train station with the old town. The museum building and the accompanying bridge are, as it were, the first image the train passenger sees of the city and with its color and shape I almost had the feeling that I had arrived in another dimension. The building breaks with the surrounding architecture and nature, making this feeling even more intense. The fragmentary pavilions, made by various architects and designers, give you a good idea of the colorful world of shapes that awaits you in the museum.

The entrance to the museum is in the golden tower on the middle pavilion. The hall consists of a large 'eye-catcher' that is quickly recognized by every art and design lover. The mosaic staircase designed by the chief architect, Alessandro Mendini, takes you to the candy-pink cloakroom and the entrance to the exhibitions. Above the entrance, the depot fills the rest of the museum's gold-coloured heart. Mendini didn't want to hide the depot, but wanted to make it an unmistakable part of the museum.


This symbolism and the artistic design of the stairs quickly make it clear that the museum building is a collection of art inside and out in itself. Mendini did not create any hierarchy with the art he incorporated in the interior. He saw all historical art styles as equals and mixed them into a dynamic whole in the interior of the building. The staircase deepens this idea again with its own message. Mendini wanted to lead the visitor down with a staircase, in contrast to many museums, where stairs are taken to a higher level. This stems from the idea that art is elevated above the everyday. Mendini went against this with the design of the stairs. All these ideas and ideas are typical of postmodernism.

The collection

This main exhibition of the museum is quite literally 'the collection'. The permanent art objects of the museum can be found here and have a clear focus on the local history of the city and the province of Groningen. This was extra interesting for me, as a Frisian and fellow northerner, because it is very related to Frisian history and culture. And although Groningen and Friesland often have rivalries, this in-depth look at the history of the Northern Netherlands gave me a feeling of recognition and connection.


Upon entering the Treasury and the Masterpieces Room, two exhibition rooms, this emphasis on Groningen history is most apparent. 17th century painting depicts familiar and lesser-known faces portrayed on solid walls. Color plays a major role throughout the museum and that is reflected here as well. The aubergine-like, brown-purple color of the walls enhances the historical feeling that the painting is intended to evoke in this room.

The treasury makes room for a pyramid of silverware. I found the way this is displayed very powerful. The room is entirely devoted to the silver crockery. By placing these in the center of the exhibition space, with dark walls and light that focuses only on this art, the objects rushing loose become like an everyday  object eyes, a play of form and residual form with a special light and shadow effect.

The Squad

What is unique about the exhibition for the artist collective De Ploeg is that the partnership between the members was created in response to the lack of opportunity to exhibit. Although the association still exists under the same name, it is a special milestone for the (most important) artists, who were mainly active in the 1920s.


For me, the work, which consists of the impressionist, expressionist and constructivist movements, was above all a reflection and point of recognition. The works were in line with the teaching material for the art history course and were a suitable way to deepen my knowledge for the first practical test.

Memphis Design & Pronkjewails

The similarity with the teaching and learning material at the Academy was also reflected in the designs of the exhibition spaces of Memphis Design & Pronkjewails. The Memphis Design group fulfills a connecting function with this exhibition. The museum's collection and architecture come together in style here, as Mendini and guest architect Michele de Lucchi both worked as architects on the building and produced designs for the Memphis Design group. The asymmetrical shapes, excess of color and variety of materials are the proof.

Pronkjewails gave me confusion at first sight during my visit. A large amount of design, from past to present, was arranged at random in my eyes, which made it difficult for me to discover connections between the art and design objects. The designs are surrounded by a labyrinth of curtains that cover the entire space. The exhibition space is round and along these walls are rows of colorful design, which contrast with the white walls. Aesthetically it is very refined.

Later, through a description, I gained context about the concept behind the exhibition, which turned my confusion into an 'aha!' The countless combinations represent different still lifes that bring the present and the past together.

The visit to the museum was ultimately an appropriate way to delve into the knowledge that will form a foundation and possible source of inspiration for my own work in the future. In addition, it was simply very nice to see and experience well-known designs in real life.

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